April 10, 2024
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Italian Reporter Reveals Hamas Cover-Up Over Misfired Rockets

An Italian journalist who until Tuesday was embedded in Gaza has backed the IDF’s ac­count of a rocket strike on a school playground in central Gaza’s Shati refugee camp on Mon­day.

At least 10 people were killed in the at­tack—most of them children—and some sources claimed the death toll was as high as 30. Palestinian sources were quick to blame Israel, claiming that an Israeli fighter jet fired missiles directly at the playground and near­by hospital. Israel denied the accusations, say­ing that Hamas rockets aimed at Israel from the area misfired, and struck both the school and the hospital.

Verifying facts on the ground in Gaza is notoriously difficult for foreign reporters, and even for Palestinian journalists seen as aligned with the Fatah-led Palestinian Au­thority, as journalists are closely watched by Hamas security forces and can face in­terrogation and a permanent ban from Gaza for publishing material deemed un­favorable to the territory’s Islamist rulers. As such, little information has emerged on what exactly happened that day in Shati.

But returning from a stint in Gaza, and safe from what he ominously referred to as potential “Hamas retaliation,” Italian jour­nalist Gabriele Barbati broke the media si­lence by tweeting the following message, confirming that Hamas terrorists rushed to cover up evidence of what was indeed er­rant rocket fire aimed at Israel:

During the 23 days of Operation Protec­tive Edge a handful of journalists have de­fied, purposefully or inadvertently, Hamas’s restrictions on reporting negative informa­tion from Gaza —only to backtrack soon af­ter.

Two cases in particular were high­lighted earlier this week. In one, Wall Street Journal reporter Nick Casey tweeted evidence—and veiled criticism—over Hamas’s leadership’s use of Shifa Hospi­tal in Gaza as a command center, shedding more light on the group’s use of human shields. Hamas reacted furiously, and a Ha­mas-affiliated twitter account blacklisted him as a journalist “who lies for Israel” —a potentially deadly accusation for anyone in Gaza, let alone a foreigner. Shortly after­wards, the tweet was promptly removed by Casey. Numerous foreign journalists have admitted to interviewing Hamas leaders in­side the hospital, but their reports are nota­ble for the lack of emphasis placed on such a flagrant violation of international law.

In the second case, another WSJ jour­nalist tweeted evidence of a Hamas rocket misfire which damaged Gaza’s main hospi­tal. Again, shortly after tweeting it, Tamer El-Ghobashi removed the evidence.

Deleted tweets:

The use of human shields by Gazan ter­rorist groups during the current conflict has been repeatedly documented. Both Ha­mas and Islamic Jihad have stored and fired rockets from within densely-pop­ulated civilian areas, making Israeli at­tempts to stop them without causing collateral damage near to impossible. To compound the problem, Hamas has openly encouraged civilians to act as human shields, glorifying their ac­tions as heroism.

Terrorists have also used hospi­tals and schools as command centers and military bases.

On Tuesday, the United Nations Work and Relief Agency (UNWRA) ad­mitted that it had discovered rockets stored in one of its schools for the third time.

Hamas has not issued a response to Barbari’s claims, and it is unclear whether he will face a ban from report­ing from the Strip in the future. But whatever happens to him, his claims raise some uncomfortable questions about the objectivity of reports coming from Gaza—in particular the accuracy of the much-touted civilian death toll, and who may be responsible for it.

By Ari Soffer/Artuz 7

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